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Spine J. 2019 Sep 2. pii: S1529-9430(19)30960-X. doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2019.08.014. [Epub ahead of print]

Opioid-Limiting Legislation Associated with Decreased 30-Day Opioid Utilization Following Anterior Cervical Decompression and Fusion.

Author information

1
Department of Orthopaedics, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. Electronic address: daniel_b_reid@brown.edu.
2
Department of Orthopaedics, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.
3
Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

Abstract

BACKGROUND CONTEXT:

Since 2016, 35 of 50 U.S. states have passed opioid-limiting laws. The impact on postoperative opioid prescribing and secondary outcomes following ACDF remains unknown.

PURPOSE:

To evaluate the effect of opioid-limiting regulations on postoperative opioid prescriptions, emergency department (ED) visits, unplanned readmissions, and reoperations following elective anterior cervical discectomy and fusion (ACDF).

STUDY DESIGN/SETTING:

Retrospective review of prospectively-collected data PATIENT SAMPLE: 211 patients (101 pre-law, 110 post-law) undergoing primary elective 1-3 level ACDF during specified pre-law (December 1st, 2015 - June 30th, 2016) and post-law (June 1st, 2017 to December 31st, 2017) study periods were evaluated.

METHODS:

Demographic, medical, surgical, clinical and pharmacological data was collected from all patients. Total morphine milligram equivalents (MMEs) filled were compared at 30-day postoperative intervals, before and after stratification by preoperative opioid-tolerance. Thirty- and 90-day ED visit, readmission, and reoperation rates were calculated. Independent predictors of increased 30-day and chronic (>90 day) opioid utilization were evaluated.

RESULTS:

Demographic, medical, and surgical factors were similar pre-law versus post-law (all p>0.05). Post-law, ACDF patients received fewer opioids in their first postoperative prescription (26.65 vs. 62.08 pills, p<.001; 202.23 vs. 549.18 MMEs, p<.001) and in their first 30 postoperative days (cumulative 30-day MMEs 444.14 vs. 877.87, p<.001). Furthermore, post-law reductions in cumulative 30-day MMEs were seen among both opioid-naïve (363.54 vs. 632.20 MMEs, p<.001) and opioid-tolerant (730.08 vs. 1,122.90 MMEs, p=0.022) patient populations. Increased 30-day opioid utilization was associated with surgery in the pre-law period, preoperative opioid exposure, preoperative benzodiazepine exposure, and number of levels fused (all p<.05). Chronic (>90 day) opioid requirements were associated with preoperative opioid exposure (OR 4.42, p<.001) but not with pre/post-law status (p>0.05). Pre- and post-law patients were similar in terms of 30- or 90-day ED visits, unplanned readmissions, and reoperations (all p>0.05).

CONCLUSIONS:

Implementation of mandatory opioid prescribing limits effectively decreased 30-day postoperative opioid utilization following ACDF without a rebound increase in prescription refills, ED visits, unplanned hospital readmissions, or reoperations for pain.

KEYWORDS:

ACDF; anterior cervical discectomy and fusion; cervical; diversion; law; legislation; narcotic; neurosurgery; opioid; orthopaedic; outcomes; predictors; readmission; risk factors; spine

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